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The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is part of the Scottish Government’s Hydro Nation strategy. The objective of the strategy is to develop the economic, environmental and social value of Scotland’s water resources. The Hydro Nation Scholars play an important role in supporting this by:

  • developing understanding of how and where best to develop the value of Scotland’s water resources
  • focusing on enhancing Scottish capacity in areas of existing research excellence
  • providing new research and insights where there are gaps related to water resources in Scotland.

Projects with international elements will be expected to recognise and reflect in their design the key territories set out in the Scottish Government’s International Development Framework, and of those Malawi in particular. Projects in other territories can be considered, but priority will be given to projects which can demonstrate a clear understanding of recent or current Hydro Nation international activity.

The Programme and the associated graduate school are managed on behalf of the Scottish Government by the Hydro Nation International Centre at the James Hutton Institute and steered by an Executive Group (HNSEG) drawing on  Scotland’s water policy, industry, and academic network.


The Hydro Nation Scholars Programme is an open competition for project topics and then for PhD Scholars to undertake approved projects, hosted within Scottish Universities and Research Institutes. 

Full funding is available from the Scottish Government (to host institutions via the Scottish Funding Council) for up to 7 PhD scholarships. Home and Overseas scholars can be considered and are defined according to a Scholar’s status for University admissions. The funding available will be in line with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) doctoral stipend levels and indicative fees. Currently these are:

  • National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2020/21 is £15,285
  • Research Councils UK Indicative Fee Level for 2020/21 is £4,407

Scholars will be allocated £2,500 per annum for Travel and Subsistence and annual on-costs and all fees and stipend will be covered. Scholars will be funded for 4 years.

Scholars will benefit from specialised programmes provided under the auspices of the Hydro Nation Graduate School.


The following projects are now available for applications:


  • To apply for any of above projects, please visit
  • The projects will be advertised from Friday 13th November 2020 to Friday 8th January 2021. Please visit to view the full project adverts and the contact details of the primary supervisor.
  • Applicants are strongly advised to make an informal enquiry about the PhD to the primary supervisor well before the final submission deadline. 
  • Applicants must send a completed application form (available below), their Curriculum Vitae and a covering letter to the primary supervisor by the final submission deadline of 8th January.
  • Eligibility: Applicants should have a first-class honours degree in a relevant subject or a 2.1 honours degree plus Masters (or equivalent).
  • Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed on 11th or 12th February 2021.
  • Although approved for advertisement, this does not mean that the project has been successful in securing the funding from the Scottish Government.
  • PhD candidates for approved advertised projects will be interviewed with recommendations made to the Scottish Government, who will take the final decision on the award of Scholarships.

Summary timetable for recruitment for 2021

Advertisement of Approved Projects

13th November 2020

Deadline for Scholar Applications

8th January 2021

PhD Scholar Interviews

11th and 12th February 2021

Final Decisions on PhD Scholars

Late February 2021


The HNSP Scholar Application form 2021 is available to download here.

As outlined above, please return this form direct to the primary supervisor in electronic (Word) format by: 8th January 2020. Host Higher Education Institutions will hold, and be responsible for scholariship applications all personal data contained therein.